In tidying up my list of already-collected articles that haven’t yet been blogged, I clicked on one bland-looking announcement with an unsettling headline.
- Sherwood Park News, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, 19 July 2006, Strengthening home education regulation in AlbertaSchool choice is a key strength of Alberta’s education system. This updated Regulation will ensure home education in Alberta continues to be a meaningful option for students and their parents.
Smelling bureaucratese, I went looking to see how lax homeschool oversight was in Alberta since the legislature needed to step in and “strengthen” the regulation. The result is a story with a moral.
I found the previous Alberta home education regulation still online. I pasted the text into a Microsoft Word page to see, roughly, how long it was: nine pages with the original spacing. While glancing through the regulation, it didn’t read as if homeschool oversight in Alberta was lax.
The new regulation went into effect on the first of August of this year. If the pasting of the new text into another Microsoft Word page, and converting the Verdana text to Arial of the same font size is anything to go on, the regulation has been increased by three pages. What wasn’t lax is now cinched like a corset.
In doing a quick side-by-side reading, a few selected changes are:
- “Definitions” increased from “a – f” (6 items), to “a – i” (9 items), with the addition of sub-definitions
- from: “home education program” means that portion of an education program delivered by a parent to a student in accordance with this Regulation;
- to: “Alberta Programs of Study” means the courses of study, education programs and instructional materials prescribed, authorized and approved by the Minister under section 39(1)(a), (b) and (d) of the Act;
- from: none
- to: “evaluation” means a judgment as to the quality, worth or value of a response, product or performance of a student in a particular year, based on the activities selected by a parent to be focused on in a home education program for that year pursuant to section 3(3);
- “Notification” increased. (emphasis added for reading ease)
- from: A supervising board or supervising private school that is notified under subsection (1) must reply in writing in the prescribed form to the parent not more than 15 days after the date on which it is notified.
- to: An associate board or associate private school that receives a notice under subsection (1) or (2)
(a) must complete its portion of the form referred to in subsection (1) or (2), and
(b) must notify the parent in writing within 15 school days after receiving the notice that it agrees to supervise or continue to supervise the home education program.
- “Home education program” increased.
- from: A parent who offers a program referred to in subsection (1)(b) must provide the supervising board or supervising private school with a written description of the student’s program for the year, including the subject areas to be taught, the instructional methods, resources and means of evaluation to be used and the student learning outcomes prescribed in the Schedule to be achieved.
- to: A parent who intends to provide a home education program must develop the program.
- plus: 6) A parent referred to in subsection (5) must provide to the associate board or associate private school a written description of the program which must include
(a) a list of the activities selected by the parent under subsection (3) and an explanation as to how those activities will enable the student to achieve the ultimate goal set out in subsection (2),
(b) the instructional methods and resources to be used,
(c) the means of conducting evaluations of the student’s progress, and
(d) the name of the person instructing the home education program, if not the parent.
(7) A parent who has provided a description of a home education program under subsection (6) may alter the program, and must notify the associate board or associate private school of any significant changes to the program.
Oh, I can’t go on! (and I only made it through to pages 2 and 4 of the respective documents)
Whatever did those Albertan homeschoolers do to deserve this treatment? In looking around online for background information, it seems that [whispers] money is involved. Ouch.
- January/February 2002 HSLDA Court ReportIn Alberta, Canada, home schoolers enjoyed more liberty than almost any of the other provinces. Then several years ago, legislation was passed giving home schoolers $500 per child in government funds. The very next year, one of the most restrictive legislative bills was passed, implementing regulations for home schoolers. When asked why, the Minister of Education stated that if they were giving money to home schoolers, they had to know who they are and have certain standards. These regulations apply to all home schoolers–not only those who receive the government funding.
- School Choice, Education page, Alberta Government, Home Education/Blended ProgramsParents who choose to educate their children at home assume primary responsibility for delivering and supervising their child’s courses of study and work as partners with a school board or accredited private school to ensure the child’s educational goals are being met. A “blended program” is an educational program that consists of two distinct parts: an in-school program where a teacher employed by a school board or accredited private school is responsible for providing for the delivery and evaluation of courses and a Home Education program that meets the requirements of the Home Education Regulation.
That explains a lot.
I kept looking around, and found a characterization of the process of the regulation review.
- Alberta Teacher’s Association, 10 May 2006, Home education regulation under review “The essential thing to remember here is that home-educating parents do have the constitutional right to work with their children in their homes if they wish provided certain conditions and so on are met. We intend to continue to allow them, for the most part, as far as I’m aware anyway, to do the very same thing in the future.”
Wow. It’s a good thing the powers-that-be didn’t have any axe to grind concerning homeschooling in Alberta — for the most part.
So, did the Alberta homeschoolers find all this copacetic? It doesn’t look that way
- Alberta Home Education Association, 21 February 2006, Letter concerning the Draft regulation The Regulation would retain the three modes of assessment that are required, but then adds two further requirements: that home-educated students be assessed every year against the Alberta Programs of Study (“POS”) in language arts and mathematics (regardless of whether the students have been studying that curriculum). The results must also be recorded every two years in the student’s permanent record. Each year the Minister will receive aggregate statistics about how home-educated children perform against material they have not studied. With respect, in our view this further level of assessment is nonsensical.
Despite the objections from the Alberta homeschoolers, the ‘strengthening’ went forward. Some of them must have been in favor of it, though, as, at the Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada site, no tears were shed.
- Alberta Home Education RegulationAfter many years of hard work we are pleased to announce that the new Alberta Home Education Regulation has passed with all freedoms intact.
Paul D. Faris Executive Director and Legal Counsel
Maybe it’s an old announcement from the last time the regulation was reviewed?
Some of the “freedoms” are:
- A parent providing a home education program to a student must, at regular intervals, conduct an evaluation of the progress of the student; maintain dated samples of student work and a general record of the student’s activities, maintain a record of the methods and dates of those evaluations; must be available for a regular review of the student’s achievement with the associate board or associate private school;Â must ensure that the student is available in order that the associate board or associate private school may conduct an evaluation of the progress of the student.
- An associate board or associate private school supervising a home education program must ensure that a student at a level equivalent to grade 3, 6 or 9 is given the opportunity to write the grade 3, 6 or 9 provincial achievement test, as the case may be; must arrange for teachers employed by the associate board or associate private school to conduct at least 2 evaluations of the progress of the student in each school year; must record in the records the results of the tests, if written; must advise the student’s parent as to the progress of the student, and must make recommendations to the student’s parent on any matter that may assist the student in attaining a higher level of achievement, where necessary.
- 4) A parent who receives funding must use the funding only to defray the costs incurred by the parent for programs of study, and provide the associate board or associate private school with receipts showing how the funding was spent; must not use the funding as a form of personal remuneration, or to pay for travel costs or other expenses usually required to be paid by a parent of a student who is enrolled in a school operated by a board or private school. Any instructional materials, other than materials that cannot be used again, purchased by a parent with funding received must be returned to the associate board or associate private school within one year following the student’s completion of the course to which the materials relate if the associate board or associate private school requests those materials within that year.
Oh, and part of the Alberta regulation remained unchanged.
- Learning Outcomes for Students Receiving Home Education Programs That Do Not Follow the Alberta Programs of Study
- 1 A basic education must provide students with a solid core program including language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.
- 2 Students are expected to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will prepare them for life after high school.Â A basic education will allow students to
- (a) read for information, understanding and enjoyment,
- (b) write and speak clearly, accurately and appropriately for the context,
- (c) use mathematics to solve problems in business, science and daily life situations,
- (d) understand the physical world, ecology and the diversity of life,
- (e) understand the scientific method, the nature of science and technology and their application to daily life,
- (f) know the history and geography of Canada and have a general understanding of world history and geography,
- (g) understand Canada’s political, social and economic systems within a global context,
- (h) respect the cultural diversity, the religious diversity and the common values of Canada,
- (i) demonstrate desirable personal characteristics such as respect, responsibility, fairness, honesty, caring, loyalty and commitment to democratic ideals,
- (j) recognize the importance of personal well-being and appreciate how family and others contribute to that well-being,
- (k) know the basic requirements of an active, healthful lifestyle,
- (l) understand and appreciate literature, the arts and the creative process,
- (m) research an issue thoroughly and evaluate the credibility and reliability of information sources,
- (n) demonstrate critical and creative thinking skills in problem solving and decision making,
- (o) demonstrate competence in using information technologies,
- (p) know how to work independently and as part of a team,
- (q) manage time and other resources needed to complete a task,
- (r) demonstrate initiative, leadership, flexibility and persistence,
- (s) evaluate their own endeavours and continually strive to improve, and
- (t) have the desire and realize the need for life-long learning.
In the early 1960s my best friend moved to Medicine Hat, a city in Alberta. I was jealous at the time. I’m not jealous now.